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Saltwater intrusion monitoring in Florida

January 7, 2017

Florida's communities are largely dependent on freshwater from groundwater aquifers. Existing saltwater in the aquifers, or seawater that intrudes parts of the aquifers that were fresh, can make the water unusable without additional processing. The quality of Florida's saltwater intrusion monitoring networks varies. In Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, for example, there is a well-designed network with recently constructed short open-interval monitoring wells that bracket the saltwater interface in the Biscayne aquifer. Geochemical analyses of water samples from the network help scientists evaluate pathways of saltwater intrusion and movement of the saltwater interface. Geophysical measurements, collected in these counties, aid the mapping of the saltwater interface and the design of monitoring networks. In comparison, deficiencies in the Collier County monitoring network include the positioning of monitoring wells, reliance on wells with long open intervals that when sampled might provide questionable results, and the inability of existing analyses to differentiate between multiple pathways of saltwater intrusion. A state-wide saltwater intrusion monitoring network is being planned; the planned network could improve saltwater intrusion monitoring by adopting the applicable strategies of the networks of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, and by addressing deficiencies such as those described for the Collier County network.